12/02/2004 12:00AM

Smuggler likely won't have to face local queen

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MIAMI - After Aclassysassylassy dominated the local 2-year-old filly division all season, even her trainer, Dave Vivian, was eager to see how she might fare when tested by a quality out-of-town horse like Smuggler in Saturday's $100,000 Three Ring Stakes at Calder. Barring a last-second change of heart, though, that confrontation will not take place.

Aclassysassylassy was running a slight temperature when Vivian came to the barn Thursday morning, missed a scheduled work, and in all likelihood will be scratched from the 1 1/16-mile Three Ring. Her defection would leave a field of only seven juvenile fillies, led by the undefeated Smuggler and the improving Embassey Gardens.

"She seemed to be doing well later this morning," Vivian said Thursday. "But she missed the work, and I don't want to take a chance with her, so I'm about 99 percent certain she'll be scratched.

"She's pretty much been beating up only on the local horses here this year, so it's hard to tell just how good she might be.

"At least we would have gotten a little idea with that one horse coming in from New York," Vivian said of Smuggler, "although by and large I thought the race came up pretty easy for the money, and I really wanted to run her because she was doing so well before getting sick this morning."

would leave Smuggler the likely favorite and Embassey Gardens the one to catch in the Three Ring.

, a regally bred daughter of Unbridled and Inside Information, is trained by Shug McGaughey for owner-breeder Ogden Mills Phipps. Smuggler rallied from far back with a very impressive late burst of speed to win her career debut at Belmont on Oct. 14, then successfully stretched out to 1 1/8 miles to capture a first-level allowance race by 4 1/4 lengths four weeks later at Aqueduct. Regular rider John Velazquez will be down for the assignment.

bounced back from a seventh-place finish in her debut with an impressive 10 1/4-length maiden special weight victory in her last start, and looks like the lone speed in the Three Ring. A daughter of Silver Deputy, she is trained by Bill White for her breeders, Eugene and Laura Melnyk.

"She's a well-bred filly who is just begging to go two turns," said White of Embassey Gardens.

The remainder of the Three Ring field consists of Leona's Knight, Southern Serenity, Quick Queen, Joyous Song, and Wise Briana.

A New York invader, Better Than Bonds figures to be the public's choice in the 1 1/16-mile What a Pleasure after chasing Flamenco and Rockport Harbor in his last two starts.

Better Than Bonds, a son of former local favorite Sweetsouthernsaint, was beaten less than a length by Flamenco in the 6 1/2-furlong Cowdin and six lengths by the still-undefeated Rockport Harbor in the Grade 3 Nashua.

"He ran really big against Flamenco in the Cowdin and had some excuses when he got bottled up the whole way in the Nashua," said Robert Reinacher Jr., who trains Better Than Bonds. "He'll be running two turns for the first time on Saturday, which is always a concern, but he's a pretty intelligent colt who gives the impression he'll continue to get better with experience."

D'Court's Speed tops a good local contingent in the What a Pleasure that also includes Lismore, Deputy Minister, and Cherokee Chase. A half-brother to the multiple Group 1 winner D'Wildcat's Speed, D'Court's Speed finished second in both the Seacliff and Foolish Pleasure stakes after winning his maiden at first asking, but has not started since his near-miss in the Foolish Pleasure two months ago.

Lismore earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 85 winning his maiden by nearly 11 lengths last month but has yet to run beyond seven furlongs. Dusty Minister won two races in a row before getting trapped at the rear of the pack and racing well wide to a sixth-place finish in his last, the In Reality Stakes.